Communion as a Remembrance

// September 2nd, 2019 // Sermons

Communion Sunday… You can listen online or download it and listen later…Communion as a Remembrance – the German-speaking and somewhat Roman Catholic in-nature-church that my parents were attending when I was a young boy, only served Communion once-a-year and only to adults at a special evening service.  So, since I switched to a different church as a pre-teen, I never participated in one of these services.

When I was 11, my sister and I started attending an English-speaking church that served communion about 4 times/year.  When I received Christ as my Savior I started participating in the Communion Services.  I always thought 4 times-a-year was not enough.

In 1986, when I became the pastor of the Sunshine Coast Gospel Church, I proposed to the Board that we celebrate Communion on the first Sunday of every month…they were in full agreement.  And then, when we came to Garrington the Leadership here were also very accepting of this idea.

Over the years we have had people that have asked if we could serve it more frequently and some would prefer it every Sunday.  I have stood my ground against doing it every Sunday, because I know how easy it is to do anything by rote – doing something without even thinking about it.  Communion is such a precious and spiritually rich blessing to participate in, that I would hate to lose that simply because we are doing it every week.

Communion, in my mind, is a celebration of the goodness of God, a time to remember God’s great love in sending His Son to shed His blood for our sins, and a great thing to do with our brothers and sisters in worship – at the foot of the cross, we are naturally drawn closer together.

Communion is a “thanksgiving” reminder, but it has other connotations as well.  The word “communion” implies a close union.  In comm-union we draw close to God – as we reflect on what Jesus did for us, we can’t help but want to get on right terms with Him and our fellow believers.

The words “communion” and “community” share the same root.  They come from a 12 Century French word meaning, “fellowship, mutual participation, a sharing” – a word that was used in later Latin ecclesiastical language for “participation in the sacrament” – from the word “common”The ground at the foot of the cross is level – we are all on even or common ground!

I want us to focus on “remembrance” today.  The church where I was saved and started taking communion, had a table in front of the pulpit – on the front of the table were the words, “In Remembrance of Me!”

Despite all our spiritual talk and posturing, we Christians can be pretty shallow, even when it comes to such important things as remembering the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf.

Before we actually eat of the bread and drink from the cup – the 2 elements of the Lord’s Supper – I want to take a bit of time to look at three benefits that come out of this discipline of “remembering.”

It is my hope to help us understand that this remembering is different from most everything else we need to remember.  It is much more than just recalling where you left your car keys, your sunglasses or the TV remote.

The kind of remembering we are talking about should be life-changing!  May that be our experience this morning…the first benefit…

#1. This Remembering should keep us from being too casual in thanking Jesus for what He has done for us! 

Most of us dress quite casually here at Garrington.  One or two wear suits and ties, and others wear jeans.  Neither is wrong, as I see it…but, just as long as I don’t become too casual or legalistic in my relationship with God.

God takes our relationship with Him, very seriously – and so should we.  Our relationship with God is supposed to change our lives – it should impact every part of our whole being.

Many Christians today can’t relate to this because they think that life should be lived in compartments – there is my work compartment, my family compartment, my recreation compartment, and if I have anything left….there is my God compartment.  But, just as long as that compartment doesn’t require more than an hour and a half on Sunday.

What Jesus did on the cross was not a casual thing!  It was casual for the Romans, because they crucified people all the time.  But for people who were crucified, it was horrific, painful thing.  There was nothing casual about it.

And our remembrance of His death on the cross shouldn’t be casual, either.  This is a serious, contemplative event in our walk with Him.  The 2nd benefit of remembering:

#2. Remembering draws us to a deeper level of love for Jesus.

When I intentionally reflect on the love that nailed Jesus to the cross on my behalf, I can’t help but want to surrender more and more to Him!   No matter how good a person you might consider yourself to be, none of us deserve what Jesus did for us!

The Bible is very clear that we all deserve death and eternal punishment in hell.  But by God’s grace, He allowed me to hear the good news that there is a way of escape from the punishment I deserve.

His love, demonstrated through the sacrifice of His body and the shedding of His blood, made it possible for me to know about this love.  You need to understand that we can’t even love God without His help.

He loves us so much, and desires for us to love Him back.  But for that to happen, Jesus had to die so we could enter into that kind of relationship with our Creator God.  That is a benefit of remembering.  #3…

#3. Remembering helps us to live for Jesus.

In Matt. 22:37, Jesus said that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  We tend to spend so much time trying to figure out just what it means to love God that we forget that one little word that precedes each one of these.

That little word is “all!”  We are to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength.  In other words, we’re supposed to dedicate our entire being to loving and serving God.  You cannot be casual in your relationship with Him and love Him with ALL.  This means that God cannot simply be a small compartment in your life…He must be All in All!

This kind of thinking and living says, “Okay, Jesus.  I’m yours – everything I have is yours, including my family, my possessions, my job.  Use me and use these things for your purposes.  I’m giving them all over to you.  Help me to love you all the way!”

Because of what He has done for me – leaving the glory and wonders of heaven to suffer and die on the cross for me – for this reason, I can’t think of a better response but be willing to live for Him.

I hope that you find yourself responding to Him in the same way.  And, if you have never come to that intentional point of decision, then may this be the day that you do!  May you remember that Christ died for you, and for this reason, you should want to live for Him.

Well, as we prepare to take communion, I want us to take note of the 4th benefit of remembering the sacrifice of Jesus…

  1. Remembering reminds us that God has never forgotten us.

God isn’t some distant force that existed and worked only in the ancient past.  He exists today, and is at work in our lives and in our world, today.

When we pray, we are not praying to the God of “long ago”; we are praying to the God of “here and now” and to the God of “tomorrow.”  I’m so grateful that our God is eternal.

Jesus says over and over that God never leaves us and that we are always on His mind.  Not just as a group of people who call themselves Christians, but He thinks of us individually.

Ps. 139 tells us about the detail way that God thinks about every person on earth.   And so, remembering what he did in the past helps us to rely on Him in the present, and gives us hope for tomorrow.

By putting your trust in Jesus and what He did for you on the cross, and turning from your sins with His help, you not only assure yourself of a home in heaven, not just forgiveness of your sins, not only the removal of all your guilt, but also the wonderful knowledge that God wants to be active in your heart today.  And that, until the day you leave this earth and enter into His presence, He wants to help you live for him; He wants to use you to make a positive impact on the world around you.

In Luke 9:23-26, Jesus talks about what it meant to be one of His disciples.  He often warned people to count the cost of being disciple, but He also warned against the choice of not becoming a follower/disciple of Jesus.

In Matthew 10:32, Jesus says that “everyone who acknowledges Him before men, He will acknowledge before His Father in heaven and whoever denies Him before men, He also will deny before His Father in heaven.”  And so, in a very real and practical way, when we are by participating in the Lord’s Supper we are acknowledging our Lord before people.  Wow!  Consider 3-part involvement of Communion:

  1. The cross of Christ – that’s God’s involvement!

The cross reminds us that God was not content merely to create a world and let it spin on its own.  He created people and remained concerned about the welfare of His creation.

God involved Himself in the affairs of people on many occasions in order to redirect them to the only way of life that has purpose and meaning.  But, His supreme involvement came as the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.  Our Lord’s involvement in the problems of people found its ultimate reality at the cross of Calvary.  The cross reminds us that a Savior was willing to become involved in the affairs of man, even to the point of death – to know of this kind of involvement should mean that we could never be content with being a mediocre disciple/follower of Jesus. Notice secondly…

  1. Discipleship is our involvement!

There is a tragic heresy has entered the minds of some people that says a person’s can be saved without becoming an active disciple or follower of Jesus.  The Bible mentions no such optional commitment.

Conversion, forgiveness of sin and becoming a follower of Jesus is what it means to ask Jesus to be your Savior.  For this reason, Christ said to his disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.”

A man was in New York City and got himself lost.  He explained his situation and asked a man for directions.  The man chose to show the traveller the way rather than just tell him.  He led him to the proper bus stop and even missed his own bus in order to stay there and help the traveller get on the right bus.  Rather than give directions that would have been hard to follow, this New Yorker became the traveller’s way to where he was going.

That’s how it with Jesus.  When we trust Him with our sinful past, our trouble-filled today, and our uncertain tomorrow…He becomes our Way to life everlasting.  And thirdly…

III. Communion is joint involvement

The cross is God’s involvement, discipleship is our involvement and communion is joint involvement.

There is another part of the understanding of the root of the word “communion” that I didn’t mention earlier.  Communion is a Biblical word that is used to speak of genuine Christian fellowship.  In the Greek, the word koinonia is used.  Koinonia is part of our gathering at the Lord’s Table.  It is fellowship, it is community, it is sharing together and it is involvement with Christ.  We get involved…

  1. By identifying with Christ our Savior.

One of the darkest moments in the life of Simon Peter was when he denied having been involved with Christ.  When we gather at the Lord’s Table we are identifying as followers of Christ who are involved with Him and what He stands for.

That is why the Lord’s Supper is only for Christians and has great meaning for Christians, but has no meaning for those who are not believers/followers of Christ.

When we participate in the Lord’s Supper we identify with the message of the gospel of Jesus.  In 1 Cor. 11:26 Paul wrote that “as often as you do this you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”  We believe that the Lord’s Supper is for those of like faith, for those who desire to proclaim the same gospel.  And further…

  1. Our involvement is a strong reminder of what took place years ago.

The story goes that after WWI some people found a French soldier obviously suffering from amnesia.  When they picked him up at a railway station, he looked at his questioners blankly and kept saying, “I don’t know who I am.  I don’t know who I am.”

Because he had been so badly disfigured, three different families claimed him as belonging to them.  He was taken to one village after another where these different families lived and was allowed to walk around by himself.

When he entered the third village, a light of recognition suddenly came into his eyes.  He walked down a side street, through a small gate, and up the steps of his father’s home.  The old familiar surroundings had restored his memory – he knew who he was and where he belonged.

In a strangely familiar way, once-a-month, we come to the upper room like amnesia victims because of what we encounter in our world, day after day.  We have often forgotten who we are – we belong to Jesus! – and, we seem to choose to forget where we belong – in God’s house every Sunday!

O, may we, with minds of faith, make our way down the familiar streets, up a flight of stairs, to a room in old Jerusalem and find our way home.  It is in remembering the work of Jesus on our behalf, that we shall find our way back to God, the desire to be restored in mind and heart.

It is my hope, my desire that this won’t be some meaningless ritual for you.  If that’s all it is, then you probably shouldn’t take communion today.  But, maybe this is the day when that will change for you and you will experience a spiritual refreshing.

We celebrate an Open Communion – if you are a believer, a follower of Jesus, having believed in Him for the forgiveness of your sin and know that you are going to heaven when you die…then this is for you!

If not, we ask that you simply pass the trays along, when they are passed down the aisles…this is not for those who are not believers or followers of Jesus.

In order to prepare to eat and drink in a worthy manner….let’s quietly talk to God – quietly pray, confessing all sin and wrong motives to Him.  He promises to forgive and cleanse us…praise the Lord!   Let’s pray…

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